A few weeks ago, I was spending some time, as I often do, thinking about my ever-changing strategy and philosophy regarding dynasty leagues. I realized that a simple yet, very interesting topic would be a comparison of unique dynasty startup draft strategies. With the August DLF Dynasty Mock Drafts underway, I had the perfect opportunity to attempt this plan.
For those of you who don’t know, I manage all six monthly mock drafts and I also participate in each draft. All DLF mock drafts are 20 rounds and include typical PPR scoring for all players. The lineups are very flexible, requiring just one starter at QB, RB, WR and TE, along with four FLEX spots. Typically, I employ a similar strategy in all mocks, which would be the same way I attack an actual draft for a new league. I’ve written about my normal startup plan in the past, but the gist of it includes focusing on acquiring young players, mostly wide receivers and waiting as long as possible to select my running backs. While some of these new draft plans would be very different from my comfort zone, I knew I was up for the challenge.
After discussing with many of my fellow DLF writers, I chose the six strategies I would use for the six different drafts. While I mentioned the idea, I chose not to reveal to anyone which strategies made the final list as to hopefully maintain their respective effectiveness.
The first mock draft I participated in was DLF Dynasty Mock 1 and it was filled with a dozen DLF writers, stiff competition to say the least. For this league, I chose a familiar strategy, one I’ve deemed Productive Struggle. This is the one I mentioned earlier that is the plan I normally use in my actual dynasty leagues. It involves a heavy focus on young players, wide receivers, acquiring future picks and, believe it or not, losing in the first season.
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In this league, I drew the third pick in the first round, which I knew would allow to to nab one of my favorite young wide receivers and I did just that as I selected Allen Robinson of the Jaguars. While he’s due for a statistical drop off, he’s still in line to be an elite fantasy option for years to come.
In the second round, there was little doubt I would opt for another young wideout, but narrowing down the list was a challenge. Among the available players at the 2.10 pick were Donte Moncrief, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Coleman and my personal favorite player, Randall Cobb. This was a difficult choice, but I felt reasonably confident I could secure two of my targets with my early third round pick. In the end, I went with Moncrief, a player who many think could become the Colts’ top receiver as early as this season. Unfortunately, Treadwell, Coleman, Cobb, along with Jarvis Landry, were all selected before my next pick. Left to choose from my next tier of players, I went with DeVante Parker of the Dolphins. While I have a few concerns about Parker’s health, he’s another young, high-upside receiver to add to my base.
With a long wait until my late fourth round pick, I jumped at the chance to add one more youngster, this time nabbing Giants rookie Sterling Shepard, who should step right in and play the WR2 role in New York. Shepard also gives me four wideouts under the age of 24. This is a near ideal start for this strategy, even if it means I take my lumps in 2016.
The fifth round is about the range where I’d start considering other positions, but when John Brown fell to the 5.03 pick, I couldn’t sway from the pass catchers. I pushed the plan back by one round and took Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert in the late sixth round. Eifert was a third round startup pick prior to news of his off-season surgery, so this presents excellent value. While Eifert is expected to miss some regular season action as he recovers, I wasn’t planning on competing this season anyway. Eifert is the perfect pick for this team and strategy. In the following round, I chose Eifert’s teammate, rookie receiver Tyler Boyd. Like Shepard, Boyd is a rookie who has an excellent chance to be his team’s second receiver.
Seven rounds into the draft and things are working well. Here’s the snapshot of my team up to this point:
WR: Robinson, Moncrief, Parker, Shepard, Brown, Boyd
In the eighth round, I begin to move away from the receiver position and select my quarterback, second-year starter Jameis Winston. I think the former Seminole has some maturing to do both on and off the field, but he should be ready to be my every-week starter by 2017.
When the ninth round arrives, it is finally time to break the seal on the running back position. By my 9.03 selection, 29 backs have already been selected, yet there is still a solid starter available. Although Bears back Jeremy Langford is no sure thing and Chicago added rookie Jordan Howard as competition, he did show he could do a little bit of everything during his surprising rookie season and veteran Matt Forte is now a Jet. Considering how long I waited on the position, I’m very happy with Langford. Considering the one required starting running back, I’m even starting to think I could compete this season.
In the tenth, we’re now halfway through the startup mock and I’m on a running back roll, adding Broncos rookie Devontae Booker. Even though CJ Anderson is the starter in Denver, Booker should overtake Ronnie Hillman as the prime backup and could become a fantasy factor, though I likely can’t count on him as a starter this season. Back to the productive struggle plan.
I chose to enter the back half of the draft with my punting plan intact and added more youth and a few more receivers. Here is how my final ten picks went…
11.03 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE TB
12.10 Wendell Smallwood, RB PHI
13.03 Karlos Williams, RB BUF
14.10 Braxton Miller, WR HOU
15.03 Kenyan Drake, RB MIA
16.10 Mike Thomas, WR LA
17.03 Paxton Lynch, QB DEN
18.10 Daniel Braverman, WR CHI
19.03 Terrell Watson, RB CLE
20.10 Charone Peake, WR NYJ
Of the final ten players, seven of them were rookies, which nearly seals the deal that this team will not compete in 2016. That is as planned and I’ll be able to add a very high draft pick in that heralded class of 2017.
The final roster is as follows:
QB: Winston, Lynch
RB: Langford, Booker, Smallwood, Williams, Drake, Watson
WR: Robinson, Moncrief, Parker, Shepard, Brown, Boyd, Miller, Thomas, Braverman, Peake
TE: Eifert, Seferian-Jenkins
This team is clearly superior to most, if not all others in the league at the receiver position, though all other positions have some clear questions. Winston is routinely being drafted as the fifth quarterback off the board in dynasty leagues, but he might not be ready to be a weekly fantasy starter. I added Paxton Lynch as my only backup and he is not expected to even start for his own team. After selecting Eifert in the sixth round, I backed him up with the troubled but talented Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Neither can be counted on early in the season. Of the six running backs I drafted, half were rookies and another, Watson, has yet to see any NFL game action in his two seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, this is all by design, though I totally understand some strongly disagree with the idea of giving up on any season, especially the first season of a dynasty league. I expect Winston and Eifert to be high-end starters at their positions by 2017 and I just need one or two of those young running backs to hit, giving me a suddenly well-rounded team along with that early draft pick.
After all six mock drafts were completed, I polled my Twitter followers, receiving well over 100 responses who ranked all six of my teams. You’ll see how they stacked up against each other in an upcoming article, but here are the results for this team.
This team was not well-liked as 41% of the respondents ranked this team last among the group of six. What’s interesting though is the second-highest percentage was the 18% who picked this team as their favorite of the teams. This tells me the dynasty community either loves this strategy or hates it, with very few in the middle. Here is the full breakdown.
Ranked first of the six: 18%
Ranked second: 6%
Ranked third: 9%
Ranked fourth: 10%
Ranked fifth: 16%
Ranked sixth: 41%
In the coming days, I’ll be profiling all six strategies I tried, along with how successful I felt the strategy was and will be in the future.